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American Islamophobia: Why We Need To Be Honest

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In light of the recent terrorist attacks that have hit Paris, France and San Bernardino, California, it is time for the West to have open and honest dialogue about what are the real causes behind terrorism.

If we do not do this as a society, not only will things become much worse, but it will not end. The Xenophobia that permeates in the West fertilizes the attempts by groups such as ISIS aka Daa’ish and al-Qaeda to radicalize Muslims and get them to commit heinous acts of terrorism.

As an American Muslim I can say that every time a terrorist act is committed, the first thing I think is that, “I hope it was not a Muslim”. Every time a Muslim commits an act of terrorism anywhere in the world, instantly all Muslims must face scrutiny and oftentimes violent retribution for the acts of another.

After the latest string of these latest attacks, the violent rhetoric is being aimed at Muslims. People are calling for the burning down of mosques, as well as the rounding up and killing of Muslims. What these people fail to realize is that the people behind this extremist and violent Islamist movement are actually not Muslim but are in fact enemies of both Shia and Sunni Muslims.

This group being the Khawarij.

Not only are these people the enemies of Muslims but of the West as well. We as Americans, Westerners, and Muslims need to come together and realize that we face a common enemy in the Khawarij.

The demonization of Muslims in America, the hostility felt by Muslims in this country is at an all-time high. It is open season on Muslims. The Right has seen the xenophobic rise of politicians such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson who have both cut their political teeth on the demonization of Muslims.

In addition to this, the right-wing Christians have begun a campaign to terrorize American Muslims in their places of worship by going to Mosques with assault weapons and blatantly hostile pictures of our Prophet in order to bully and humiliate Muslims. Muslims are made to feel as if they are not Americans and do not have the same rights as others in this country.

When you have politicians that are running for the office of the President of the United States such as Donald Trump making statements that Muslims should have to register with the government as Muslims and wear identifications signifying us as Muslims, or that mosques should be shut down, there is a serious problem in our society. Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee front-runner due to his demonization of Muslims, this says a lot about our society.

People are observant, not only in the USA but around the world. They see America say that it is for all people and that they protect the civil liberties of its citizens, including religious liberties, but it is seen as insincere. When a group with as much power and influence as the Republican Party has every one of their party that is running for president fueling hostility towards Muslims, there is a problem.

When Marco Rubio says in his latest campaign commercial that, “They hate us because we let women drive and because we allow women to get an education”, it is seen as an attempt to use fear-mongering in order to sway votes. The facts are that Muslims overseas do not hate the United States for these reasons. These are the topics that we need to discuss openly, honestly, and candidly.

In the Muslim world, the United States is seen as the aggressor. It is seen as a country that has demonized an entire populace in order to cause a climate where millions of innocent Muslims including women and children have been killed. When you bring up the topic of 9/11 with them they will say that 4,000 Americans died but 1.7 million Iraqis died for a lie that WMDs existed in Iraq. It is seen that 9/11 was an inside job used as an excuse to kill Muslims and take over their lands for resources.

Back home in the United States, many acts of violence and intimidation are largely overlooked by the media. If a hate-crime against a Muslim occurs, it goes unreported. If a Muslim commits a crime though, immediately the entire Muslim populace is made to feel the brunt of the anger that has been created do to the heinous act of an individual.

This is seen as hypocritical due to the fact that many White Christian men commit terrorist acts against innocents as well. This happened recently in Colorado with the shooting of a Planned Parenthood, which was no doubt political and ideologically motivated, but Christians are not made to feel responsible.

Terrorism is terrorism regardless of who the culprit is, but if it does not fit into a frame that the media wants to push in order to help a greater agenda, then it is not labeled as so. Americans have been traumatized and continue to be traumatized by mass-shootings. Just last week when I went to see the movie Creed I was sitting in the movie theatre worried if someone would come in and shoot it up. I was actually looking to see who was coming and where the exits were.

The point that I am trying to make is this. Xenophobia and Islamophobia help groups like ISIS recruit Muslims to their Khawarij ideology. When Donald Trump makes irresponsible statements that all Muslims should register as Muslims and carry identifying articles as Muslims, when people, namely American citizens are copying and pasting the same things over and over again saying that all Muslims should be looked at with suspicion and contempt; when American Christians are calling for the burning down of mosques and the widespread slaughter of Muslims, it is a problem.

ISIS can go to people who are upset by the political climate and say, “See we told you they hate you for your faith, we told you they want to humiliate the Muslim, look how they humiliate us and attack or women”. It makes it much easier to attract and recruit people to their cause.

How can these people who are saying these things expect for Muslims to even care about self-regulating the mosques when they are already branded as terrorists in the eyes of the right? How can the right expect to end the terrorism when they are in fact creating a hostile atmosphere for Muslims?

Muslims feel as if they are damned if they do, they are damned if they don’t. Of course we know it is our duty as Muslims to defend our country and turn terrorists in, but this hostility will convince people that there is no use, that they are indeed truly hated for their faith or ethnicity, and so they feel as if they only way for retribution is to commit acts of terrorism.

I am sure that someone will read this and try to say that I am condoning what happened. That could not be further from the truth. I want to live in the America that I grew up in. The one free from the worry of terror, the one where all religions were accepted. The one where we are all united as Americans regardless of our differences. The right does not want this, they further are alienating a populace and in turn are self-fulfilling their prophecies about terrorism in America.

I challenge everyone reading this to become friends with the other. To have open and frank discussions about what they are feeling. Only by being open and honest with each other, even though it might be painful at first, can we stop terrorism. There is no need of alienation. The more we learn about each other, the more we will realize that we are similar and that these irrational fears do not need to exist.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com

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